Shirley You Jest

Shirley You Jest

I recall the thrill when I first read Shirley Jackson’s masterful 1948 story “The Lottery,” and the shock (I was a kid) of the story’s end. I’ve reread it several times and I’ve come to appreciate the allegory of conformity and ritual taken to its logical conclusion, hallmarks of nineteen fifties America. Huge numbers of unwashed readers back then, failing to recognize story as allegory, were outraged.

But now, seventy-four years later, I think there may be prophecy in the story’s pages. Less skilled, dystopian if not allegorical (and certainly realistic in the current political climate), are the popular “Purge” movies. I only saw the first one (starring Ethan Hawke), on HBO, but one was enough.

And then I got an idea. Marry “The Lottery” and “The Purge” (do you, Lottery, take thee, Purge), both annual feasts of slaughter. H. Rap Brown (“violence is as American as cherry pie”) is the minister. Hold a national lottery each year, in which say, a million unlucky winners are rounded up in a field on a new national holiday.

No Black on Black (white fantasy) duels, antisemitism, gun nut “kill them all and let God decide”—no. Children. Parents may opt to be killed with their kids, but no pardons. The winners are all races, creeds, political persuasions, etc. No passes for politicians or Supreme Court Justices. The 34th Amendment (The Greenie, celebrated on Green Day) ensures true death equality.

The million (losers? winners?) are surrounded by that year’s mass shooters armed with automatic rifles and handguns and hand grenades, and shot to death. Once the million are dead, the shooters kill each other in grudge matches.

Any other shooting of any kind on any other day, will be punishable by life with no chance of parole and forced to watch the same Dr. Laura’s and Dr. Phil’s programs over and over until death. Firearms for personal use are treated the same way as driver’s licenses, with written and performance tests. For inside the home use only. No guns in cars because whitey is afraid of Black people, no running out on one’s lawn and shooting one’s neighbor. Penalty (no bargaining or pleading): No trial. Automatic ten years in jail.

Consider the advantages of The Greenie. A million people a year shot to death in a controlled environment. Good for the environment! Good for population control! That year’s mass shooters all dead! Dead children make up for the ban on abortions! After all, shooting is abortion!

You’re welcome.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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